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Department of Physics - Research Interests and Current Projects

Renewable Energy at UWC: Silicon-based Solar CellsHow do we power the country? Nanotechnology at UWC State-of-Art Micro-TechnologyUse nanotechnology to improve the creation of more conduction electrons by changing the structure of the materialElectron Microscope: View material with atomic resolution Astronomy at UWC$2.5 billion Square Kilometre Array, a 3000-dish radio telescope Nuclear Astrophysics at UWCiThemba LABS and SALTNuclear Physics at UWCNuclear Energy at UWCFusion energy (the future): Now and what it could be.Environmental Nuclear Physics at UWCExcellence in Teaching

The Department of Physics at UWC distinguished itself, as a major contributor to the research needs both regionally and nationally.

Materials Science and Solid State

The Materials Science/Solid State Physics group specializes in thin film research and studies the following application areas: Photovoltaics, Superconductors, Bioceramics Coatings and Metal-semiconductor Interactions.

UWC Physics has the only Solar Cell (photovoltaic) research group in the region, and among the few in the country. We are one of only two groups in the country with expertise in High Temperature Superconducting materials research. Prof. Igor Krylov, is world renown for his work in high temperature superconductors.


Prof. Dirk Knoesen, Prof. C.J. Arendse and Dr S. Halindintwali- Photovoltaics.

Prof. M. B. T. Tchokonte - Superconducting materials.

Prof. Reginaldt Madjoe and Mr. T. Muller- Metal-semiconductor Interactions.

Current Projects:

  1. Strongly Correlated Electron Systems. Dr. M.B.T. Tchokonte
  2. Study of Thin Film Amorphous and Nano-crystalline semiconductor materials. Prof. D. Knoesen and Dr S. Halindintwali.
  3. Development and Characterization of Bioceramic Coatings. Prof. D. Adams and Dr K. Streib.
  4.  Metallization of Amorphous Silicon. Prof. R. Madjoe.

Applied Nuclear Physics Research

The Applied Nuclear Physics group specializes in the development of effective and reliable nuclear radiation detection systems to monitor natural radioactivity and radon levels in mines and houses.

This is the only research group on radon and natural radioactivity in the Western Cape.


Prof. Robert Lindsay, Prof. R. de Meijer, Prof. J. S. Schafer.

Current Projects:

Applied Nuclear Radiation and Environmental Geophysics.

Physics Education

The Physics Education Research group specializes in Student Learning.

The group’s work has informed undergraduate physics course-design at other tertiary institutions nationally and internationally.


Assoc-Prof. D. Marshall and Prof. C. Linder (currently at the University of Uppsala, Sweden)

Current Projects:

Broadly, our research focuses on understanding students’ experiences of learning Physics. Previous work in this area, framed by a phenomenographic perspective, has included studies of students' approaches to learning physics, their metacognitive development and students' conceptions of the nature of science (Linder and Marshall, 1998; 2003; Case and Marshall, 2004). More recent work has focused on the use of computer simulations in enhancing students' physics learning (Ingerman et al, 2007 & 2008).

Our current work draws on theoretical approaches to researching student learning that take a more socio-cultural perspective on learning (Marshall & Case, 2005). Examples include using discourse analysis (Case and Marshall, in press; Lesia et al, 2007), and narrative inquiry.

In our South African context, our research is motivated by the need to widen access to undergraduate science studies and to improve the quality and throughput of our science graduates (see, for example, Holtman et al, 2005; Kloot et al, 2008).

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